Pound to Euro Exchange Rate Forecast: GBP/EUR Jumps as ECB's Draghi Speaks

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ECB President Mario Draghi referred to the recent moderation in growth but expressed confidence that the recovery remains solid.

"This moderation may in part reflect a pull-back from the high pace of growth observed at the end of previous year, while temporary factors may also be at work", he said.

Policymakers will need to agree an end-date for the ECB's €2.55 trillion bond purchase programme, which has cut borrowing costs and kick-started growth, even if it has failed to lift inflation back to target.

Draghi said risks related to the threat of protectionism had become "more prominent" but stressed the bank was confident that it was on the right track towards gradually weaning the economy off an unprecedented period of stimulus.

Claus Vistesen of Pantheon Macroeconomics said Draghi's statement about a focus on recent data "could be interpreted as a sign that the central bank is making the incoming [three months to June] data conditional on how it intends to proceed with QE".

Draghi is due to speak at a press conference at 1:30 p.m. London time (8:30 a.m. ET).

The bank's 25-member governing council said Thursday that it was holding its benchmark refinancing rate at a historic low of zero, with analysts not expecting the bank to deliver a fresh rate hike until around the middle of 2019.

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This week's European Central Bank meeting comes as leaders of the eurozone's two biggest economies - France's Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Angela Merkel - visit Washington for talks with US President Donald Trump in a bid to end trade and geopolitical tensions.

Economists have predicted first quarter growth of 0.5 percent, compared to 0.7 percent in the last quarter of 2017.

"The interesting thing is that we didn't discuss monetary policy per se", he said.

A key worry is that protectionist rhetoric from the United States could push down the value of the dollar even as the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates several times this year, to support the USA currency.

Even without such shocks, the ECB has long fallen short of its central price stability objective: inflation of just less than 2.0%.

A stronger euro would cap inflation, but would affect growth and exports.

The impact of the euro's strength has been limited so far, however.

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